On Teaching Translation
Dr. Noureldin Abdelaal
Translation is one of the important means of communication amongst people and nations. Its role goes beyond the mere communication between individuals from different cultures to the fact that it is a tool for conveyance and sharing of knowledge; therefore, it should retain the same style and tone of the source text. Given this fact, it is paramount and crucial for instructors and professors of translation to be aware and adept of the latest methods and approaches to teaching translation. As established in the literature, translation is not a process of translating single and individual words or lexical items; it is rather a complicated process that entails understanding the source and target cultures and observing their norms when doing the translation task. One major point that should be observed when teaching translation is to be aware that each translation course necessitates and imposes a unique teaching approach and technique. For example, teaching media translation is quite different from teaching legal translation. In the latter course, the student needs to be taught about the legal language of the source and target languages, the legalese used in both the source language and the target language, the structure and format of the source and target languages different documents. All this should be done before embarking on teaching students how to translate legal texts. Students need also to be versed in the different types of legal documents. When it is time for the instructor to start teaching his students how to translate documents, he needs to ask his students to read different documents of the same subgenre to be translated in class in the source and target languages respectively. The instructor should also start teaching from the foreign language to the mother tongue, as this enhances students' knowledge of the foreign language norms and style of writing; and eventually, it will improve their skills when translating from the target language to the source language. Teaching legal translation requires the student to be cognizant of the legalese and the need to memorize them.
However, teaching other courses such as media translation requires different skills such as being au courant with the journalese and be updated with the current and past events. Students need to be encouraged to read news stories and opinion articles on daily basis; they also need to have their own dictionary book where they record idioms, expressions, and vocabulary. They should be taught how to be conversant with the writing style of the foreign language. English journalese, for example, is characterized by the use of long sentences, idioms, jargons, and sometimes informal register. Conversely, Arabic does not share these characteristics of English. In Arabic media, journalists and newsmakers tend to use formal register with idioms rarely used. Raising the awareness of such issues help students improve their translation skills.
Another important technique that instructors of translation courses should be familiar with is integrating different translation techniques at the same juncture. In a media translation class, students can be encouraged to translate some texts simultaneously, spontaneously, or what is termed as ‘sight translation’. This will develop their abilities in translating quickly without hesitation and on developing other translation techniques. Error analysis is also an important strategy that should be followed by instructors of translation courses to help understand the underlying reasons for making specific translation errors and how they can be avoided in future translation tasks.
Using a corpus is a very important technique that should be used in translation classes; it makes the translation sound natural and idiomatic. A case in point would be teaching literary translation, where it should be necessary to teach students how to use corpora to produce an acceptable translation in the foreign language. Other more important teaching tools that should be taught to translation students are the Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools. CAT tools are important for professional purpose, as all translation centers require translators to get the hang of some CAT tools. The importance of CAT tools is necessary as one of the technology tools that students need to master. Last but not least, students should be encouraged to translate authentic texts in groups and to get them published in some journals. Learning how to get feedback from peers, instructors and reviewers is also of utmost importance.